There are two ways we can produce automobiles. We can build them in Detroit or we can grow them in Iowa. Everyone knows how we build automobiles. To grow automobiles, we first grow the raw material from which they are made — wheat. We put the wheat on ships and send the ships out into the Pacific. They come back with Hondas on them. From our standpoint, growing Hondas is just as much a form of production — using American farmworkers instead of American autoworkers — as building them. What happens on the other side of the Pacific is irrelevant; the effect would be just hte same for us if there really where a gigantic machine sitting somewhere between Hawaii and Japan turning wheat into automobiles. Tariffs are indeed a way of protecting American workers — from other American workers.
I wonder, particularly now that my lil sis studies economics, how funny it is that economists are far and away mostly of use to govt’s. While theirs is a fine and beautiful knowledge, the only people that actually pay economists to work —besides universities, who employ them to train more economists, a nice pyramid scheme— are either bureaucrats or lobbyists warding or manipulating bureaucrats. At first that made me wary, but lately I’ve come to realize that what good economists (as opposed to bribed sycophants or bad economists) actually have to say to the gov’t is fuck off — stay away, you do more harm than good. Dismantling or even just holding off the gov’t beast is a worthy mission, quite possibly one of the most important.